A few weeks ago I let you all know about the problems with our Digital Learning Resources (DLR) Moodle course. While this probably won’t be the final home of the DLR, I’m happy to say that many of the modules are now available on my webpage. I’m taking each of the modules and turning it into a Google Slides presentation and then linking that to my page. Instead of moving from tab to tab, you’ll navigate from slide to slide to explore the resources. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than not having access at all. Currently there are 13 modules posted. If you need a module that you know was on the Moodle but don’t see it on the webpage, please let me know and I’ll get it there as soon as possible. Otherwise, my goal is to add one more each day until the entire course is rebuilt.
Thank you all for your patience as we work through this transition. If there is a topic you’re interested in and would like to see added to the DLR, please let me know. You can access the new Digital Learning Resources page by clicking here or on the “detour” sign above. You can also find my webpage on the MASD homepage under Academics then Instructional Coaches.
It’s the last day of school, so I’ll keep this short. Summer is our “down time”; our chance to unwind and take a break from the constancy of the school year. But, just as we tell the kids, that doesn’t mean our learning has to stop. Once you’ve had a chance to catch your breath, I’d like to offer a small challenge. This summer, try one new thing related to technology or digital learning. Here are a few ideas…
I spent the day Saturday at The Edscape Conference at New Milford High School in New Jersey, learning and sharing with about 400 other innovative, energetic educators. To say the experience was thought-provoking would be an understatement. This post is my attempt to wrap my head around my day at Edscape.
I learned of Edscape at the start of the school year when someone in my PLN mentioned it on Twitter. I was especially interested because the keynote was to be delivered by George Couros, a principal from Canada who I’d recently begun following. It seemed that everything I read on George’s blog spoke to something we’re trying to do here in Mechanicsburg. I was determined to get to Edscape to hear him in person.
He did not disappoint. His keynote had me laughing, crying, and thinking. Here are just a few of the standout quotes:
“The change we are in the middle of isn’t minor and it isn’t optional.” ~ Clay Shirky
“The biggest change for educators using technology isn’t a skill set, it’s a mindset.”
“Asking kids to put their phones away says, ‘I don’t trust you.’”
“This is not about technology; it’s about relationships and learning.”
“Isolation is now a choice educators make.”
“Would you want to spend the whole day learning in your classroom?”
“Open your world, open their world.”
It was clear that George loves kids and learning, and that he views technology as a way to make connections and build relationships and give children a way to create and find their voice. What could be more important than that?
There were so many sessions following the keynote, it was hard to choose which ones to attend. I started out trying to be practical…looking at the descriptions for practical things that I could bring back to school and use on Monday. You know what I learned? I’d much rather have conversations about pedagogy and learning and how to inspire people. Learning a new tool can be informative, and I did take quite a few notes about new things to try. But by far, my biggest take-aways were the informal talks with other educators within sessions, between sessions, and in the cafeteria. Sharing our biggest challenges (PD seems to be a constant in that conversation) and hearing about common struggles was affirming. We might not be where we want to be at MASD, but probably the best thing I came away with was a sense that we are on the right track. We have a long way to go, but the path is becoming clearer. I can’t wait to get back to work tomorrow and take the next steps, knowing that if we have questions, I have a whole network of educators from around the world who are just a tweet away. As George said, “this is not about technology; it’s about relationships and learning.” What Edscape reinforced for me, is that goes for the adults as well as the kids.
Last week’s TGIF featured a video site from the UK that provided videos sorted by curricular areas. I thought I had tested the site to be sure that the videos were accessible on the district network, but I was wrong. Because most of those videos are hosted by YouTube they are blocked on our network. I apologize for sharing a resource with you that you can’t use. I’ll do a better job of checking this in the future.
Thanks to Josh Schaffer at Upper Allen for pointing this out for me. I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer for you.
Today I worked on a project with the staff at one of our elementary schools. I won’t say which one, but they’ll know who they are. I’d been working with one of the teachers to put together a kick-off for their schoolwide fundraiser for the year. We were prepared. We’d put together our resources. We’d tested the technology. We were good to go. Or so we thought. At 2:30 this afternoon…the afternoon before a four-day weekend, no less…about 20 or so dedicated folks showed up at the appointed time to play their part in this little production. And then the technical glitches began. The teacher I’d been working with was starting to panic. I was too, but I was trying not to show it. Everyone was very patient and helpful, but I really didn’t want to keep them all waiting while I tried to figure this out. So, we tried something a little different. It wasn’t quite what they’d planned and will definitely change the final outcome of the project, but it worked.
What did I learn today? I learned that this staff is amazingly patient and adaptable! But I also learned that when technology glitches occur, whether they are the fault of the technology or the user (in this case, I think it might have been a little of both and I take all the responsibility for that), there’s always another option. Your lesson or project might not turn out the way you had originally planned, but you can almost always still meet your instructional objectives. In this case, we switched from video to still photos. But the end result will still teach the kids what the fundraiser is all about and will be entertaining as well. Sometimes I think we’re so tied to our idea of what the final product should look like that we fail to accept anything else. If that had been the case today, this staff would have nothing to show for all their planning. Instead, they took the bumps in stride and we found a way around the issues. That’s how we need to address technology in our classrooms. So often we hear “technology is great…when it works.” I know as well as you do the frustration of standing in front of a classroom full of students and having something go wrong. When I’m planning a lesson or project I always try to have a “Plan B” in mind. But sometimes you just have to go with the flow. I am grateful for the cooperation of that wonderful staff today. I can’t wait to see their final project. It’s going to be great!
This blog is WAY overdue! I’m the Technology Instructional Advisor… I’m supposed to lead by example. But, like all of you, I’m also busy and have many different things on my plate. But here it is…my blog. My hope is to use this blog to showcase projects that teachers are doing with and for their students, to pass along new and interesting tools, and to share ideas on how technology might help you do your job in a different way. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, or make suggestions. I’d love to hear from you.